“Dancing with the Stars” 2016 resumed April 11 on ABC as the 10 remaining couples once again foxtrotted, samba’ed, and otherwise hoofed it for America’s votes, this time to tunes from a collection of beloved Disney films. So who was “perfectly undressed” for the evening, who achieved “a staggering transformation,” and who saw her quest for the mirror ball trophy come to a sad end on the series’ happiest night?
The “biggest Disney Night event ever” –according to host Tom Bergeron– kicked off with a spirited opening number choreographed by Mandy Moore. Then up first to perform were NFL star Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess (and the men of the “DWTS” troupe), who channeled “Aladdin” with a “Friend Like Me” jazz routine that was all about fun.
The judges –including guest Zendaya– lavished praise on the piece, with the oft-finicky Len showcasing his pearly whites and calling the effort their “best dance so far” and Zendaya terming it “on point” and “amazing.” Antonio and Sharna scored a more than respectable 35 out of 40 possible points.
Former Mrs. Donald Trump and actress Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani kept the Disney magic going with a waltz set to “Part of Your World from “The Little Mermaid.” Marla made a beautiful and elegant Ariel to Tony’s Prince Eric. She’s easily the most graceful and refined woman on to grace the ballroom this season.
The panelists responded with a bizarre mixture of praise and criticism. Zendaya called it “soft and sweet” but cautioned Marla against getting too into her head during rehearsals. Bruno Tonioli called it “literally fragrant” but wished for more body contact, while Len termed it “another solid performance.” Inexplicably, oddly, unbelievably, Marla and Tony earned just 28 points.
Third up to get their Disney on were reality star Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd, who danced a samba to “Trashin’ the Camp” from “Tarzan.” Nyle may be profoundly deaf, but he dances better than most men, and this routine was more fun than a barrel of monkeys from its theatrical start to its theatrical finish.
Bruno declared “the lord of the jungle is now the lord of the dance” and appreciated how Nyle was “perfectly undressed” for the occasion. Carrie Ann declared “what can’t you do?” and called him “the happiest place on earth,” but noted a small slip at the beginning. Nyle and Peta scored a 34.
Week two leaderboard bottom-dwellers Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff followed with a jazz routine to “A Spoonful of Sugar” that they hoped would improve their standing with the judges. Unfortunately for the duo, the “Mary Poppins” dance didn’t make the medicine go down especially easily, as it seemed like Doug didn’t do much more than throw Karina around. It was cute and charming, but it needed a bit more content.
Carrie Ann “saw the makings of a good routine” but didn’t think it came together. Len praised Doug for getting into the character of the dance, but agreed that they were out of sync at times, and Bruno quipped that he should’ve “taken the medicine” earlier to make the dance go better. Doug and Karina earned an ouch-worthy 24, but got a surprise that visibly shocked Karina when they were saved to dance again next week.
The fifth couple of the evening, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kim Fields and Sasha Farber, followed with a quickstep to “I Wan’na Be Like You” from “The Jungle Book.” They are an adorable, extremely well-matched pairing and Kim exudes joy and positive expression when she performs, so their dance was a joy to watch.
Len called it “zippedy doo dah” and their “best dance so far” and Zendaya appreciated how much fun they had. Bruno dubbed Kim “the fastest girl in the jungle” and praised her for finally controlling her shoulders. A gleeful Kim and Sasha earned 32 points.
With the first hour of “Dancing with the Stars” 2016 Disney Night in the books, the show opened its second and final hour with a cha cha from “Full House” alum Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe. Jodie seemed to lose focus a few times during her routine to “Try Everything” from the recent release “Zootopia,” but she never stopped smiling.
Zendaya noted a “few mistakes” and praised her for smiling throughout, and Bruno called her the “most beautiful gazelle to stumble in the jungle” but told her to go for “that wow factor” with “Shakira heat.” Carrie Ann called it “an underwhelming performance,” and Jodie confessed that she couldn’t hear the music over the fans’ screaming in the ballroom. Len disagreed with Carrie Ann’s “underwhelming” comment, and said that it’d gone wrong but was still “full-on.” Jodie and Keo earned just 27 points.
Up next in the dance order were Super Bowl 50 MVP and apparent fart enthusiast Von Miller and Witney Carson, who performed a Viennese waltz to “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from the classic film “Cinderella.” Von stepped it up! Their dance had a sweet, romantic quality and the burly NFL player looked surprisingly refined and elegant at times.
The judges were uniformly impressed. Bruno called it “a staggering transformation from last week” and said Von was “kingly” but told him to work on his turns. Carrie Ann called him “prince champion” and thought he was “adorable.” Von and Witney scored a 32.
Eighth up to do their thing in the ballroom were “Good Morning America” weather anchor Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy. The duo’s foxtrot to “Belle” from “Beauty and the Beast” was extremely cute and very well-done, but once again, they spent a lot of time “bandying about” (as grumpy Len would say) before starting the actual routine.
Carrie Ann called them “ridiculously good” and lavished praise on their hold. Len called it “a tasty dish” and the season’s best dance to date. Zendaya –who was previously Val’s partner on “Dancing with the Stars”– loved the production value. Ginger and Val nabbed 36 points and the lead with just two couples left to dance.
Next up to dance were Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold, who were charged with performing a samba to “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.” They are so much fun to watch. Wanya is an amazing performer and they hit the beat like no one else in the competition. Bam! Mufasa lives!
Len called the dance “fantastic” and Zendaya praised the “determination” in his face. Bruno called Wanya “a top predator resplendent in his awesome power” and loved how he felt the rhythm. Carrie Ann offered up a bit of criticism, noting that he’d “over-danced” the beginning, and though the audience booed heartily, the singer didn’t disagree. Wanya and Lindsay scored a 35.
With time almost up, the final couple –UFC fighter Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas– hit the ballroom with a quickstep to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story.” Paige may be a fighter by trade, but she’s a dancer at heart. Their routine was sharp and a ton of fun to watch. She’s still a contender for the mirror ball trophy!
Zendaya called it “amazing” and “so fun.” Bruno rose to his feet and called it “so unexpected creatively” and “so refreshingly wonderful.” Carrie Ann speculated that it was the night’s most difficult dance, and Len noted that “all Disney movies end on a happy note” and that’s what Paige and Mark delivered. They scored 36 points, which tied them with Ginger and Val for the top spot on the week’s leaderboard.
Then lickety split, Paige and Mark joined the other couples on stage to face judgment. Tom and Erin then revealed the identities of the endangered couples: Marla and Tony, and Jodie and Keo. After the requisite dramatic pause, Marla and Tony were eliminated from “Dancing with the Stars” 2016.
Marla called her time on the show “the most incredible experience” and Tony called her “the most incredible partner” and encouraged America to keep supporting the show.
“Dancing with the Stars” continues April 18 with the always interesting Switch-Up week, which will see the celebs performing alongside different professional partners. Tune in to see how the new match-ups pan out.